Tips for Setting S.M.A.R.T. Goals
It’s hard to believe the holidays are almost here! Though this year may not include festive gatherings, the stores are stocked with tempting treats threatening to derail our healthy eating goals. The Y is here to help you meet your fitness and health goals during the holiday season!
One of the most effective ways to do this, is to set a S.M.A.R.T. goal. This style of goal-setting is designed to overcome obstacles for success, long after the holiday season.
Have you ever noticed that "I'm going to eat healthier" is both an easy fitness goal to set and the hardest to achieve? It may be an easy goal to get started with, but as time goes on it can be hard to maintain. Whether you are trying to make real progress with your goals or looking for a new approach, keep reading to learn how to use S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Each letter in S.M.A.R.T. stands for an important way to think about your goal: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.
Let's walk through what each letter means and turn "I want to eat healthier" into a S.M.A.R.T. goal:
- Before: I want to eat healthier.
- After: I want to eat more fruits and veggies at breakfast.
Your goal should include specific details about what you want to achieve. One of the reasons it's hard to see results from a goal like, "I want to eat healthier" is because it is too vague. Adding specificity helps you visualize your goal.
- Before: I want to eat more fruits and veggies.
- After: I want to eat one fruit or veggie at breakfast 7 days a week.
Be thoughtful about how you will measure the success of your goal. Adding numbers to your goals helps you make sure that the change you're making is meaningful enough to show results.
- Before: I want to eat one fruit or veggie at breakfast 7 days a week.
- After: I want to eat one fruit or veggie at breakfast at least 5 days a week.
An attainable goal is something that you can realistically achieve. It factors in your habits, your likes and dislikes, and your other commitments. If your work schedule or family life is particularly busy and you skip breakfast two days a week, you need to adjust.
- Relevant to your goal: I want to eat one fruit or veggie at breakfast at least 5 days a week.
- Not relevant to your goal: I want to read one book for 30 minutes.
Think about what you want to achieve with your goal. If you are looking to eat healthier so that you are more physically fit, then eating fruits and veggies is a relevant way to achieve your goal. Reading would not be relevant to your goal.
- Before: I want to eat one fruit or veggie at breakfast at least 5 days a week.
- After: For the next 2 weeks, I want to eat one fruit or veggie at breakfast at least 5 days a week.
When you come up with a goal, it's important to know when you will reach it. Knowing that there is an end date will help motivate you to stay on track. Once you reach that end date, you can start over with the same goal or start a new one using the S.M.A.R.T. method.
How do you track S.M.A.R.T. goals?
Once your goal is set, it's important to track your progress. Using a tracker helps develop your self-awareness, accountability, and self-efficacy. Click here to download your tracking sheet to record your progress. At the top, write down your goal. Fill in the days and the activity you plan to do.